The Easy Way to Write English Essay Paragraphs - Use the RED System

The Easy Way to Write English Essay Paragraphs - Use the RED System
Many ESL students have a hard time writing English essays, paragraphs and even sentences. Part of the problem is that they do not know the purpose of a paragraph.
A good paragraph is a group of sentences that talk about one idea. After reading the paragraph, the reader should understand your idea and why you think it is true. So, a paragraph is an idea plus facts or information.

A good paragraph has structure. There is order. Here is the order which works well for academic essays and business reports.

The first sentence of the paragraph tells the reader your main idea.
The next three of four sentences give the reader your reasons. Or examples. Or details.
The last sentence is a conclusion.
RED Writing System

ESL students are often not sure about what to write in the middle of the paragraph. I developed a system called the RED Writing System to help students fix this problem. Why RED? Well, because it tells you what needs to be inside a paragraph.

R - reasons
E - examples
D - details
Here is how these three different parts work.

Reasons: tell the reader why something happens.
Examples: help the reader understand your idea by showing similar things.
Details: talk about the size, shape, color (and so on) to give the reader a picture of your idea.
An Example

Here is a sample paragraph. Does this paragraph talk about reasons, examples or details?

Last week, the USS George Washington visited the port city of Busan, South Korea as part of the US involvement in local war games exercises. With a crew of almost 6300 people, this enormous aircraft carrier is like a floating city. From front to back, the ship is almost 340 meters long (about three soccer fields), 78 m wide and 77 m in height. One of the most powerful ships ever built, it can hold up to 80 aircraft.The USS George Washington is a nuclear powered warship, which means it can sail 3 million nautical miles without stopping for fuel. This super carrier was built in 1992 at a cost of $4.5 billion USD.
This paragraph provides details about a US aircraft carrier. It talks about details like size, energy source and cost.

If we wanted to write about different things, we could write a paragraph that explains why the USS George Washington is in Busan (reasons). Or, a paragraph that talks about other warships in the area or other US aircraft carriers (examples). RED Writing System Worksheet

Ttry the RED Writing System

If you would like to practice this writing system, go to and download the worksheet. You will find one topic sentence of the exercise sheet. This is the first sentence of a paragraph. Write three different paragraphs: one that gives reasons, one that provide examples and one that shows details.

The exercise sheet has a sample answer for each kind of paragraph. Your answers will be different from mine. That is okay. My examples show you how to use the system. I do not want you to copy my ideas. Learn how to use the RED Writing system and you will be able to write clear paragraphs about your ideas.

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